Posted by: Johnny Loftus on March 27, 2008 at 3:56 pm
Frontier Justice XIII: The Boredoms Eat Danity Kane Alive
By Johnny Loftus
The last thing I read before I left my apartment last night was a press release that heralded the #1 Billboard 200 debut of Danity Kane‘s sophomore album. The group Sean “Diddy” Combs whipped up in a booty-shaped petri dish filled to the brim with Cristal sold 236,000 copies of its reality show keepsake, and since no one I subsequently polled knows who DK even is, I’ll assume it was the teenagers who bought the album, kids with dreams of being the next Audrina Townshend, or at least the sixth Danity.
The release’s manufactured pull quote, attributed to Combs, was just too amazing to forget. “With Welcome to the Dollhouse, these gifted, beautiful, platinum-selling women have confirmed their enormous talent and undeniable star power. They’ve come into their own with a record displaying the depth, range, quality, and energy that creates devotion and longevity.”
Dollhouse features such deep-thinking, quality-assured cuts as “Pretty Boy,” “Bad Girl,” “Strip Tease,” and the surefire sassing finger classic “Sucka For Love.” “Making the Band”? More like making the landfill 236,000 times more clogged.
I read that release, shed a silent, cynical tear for the future Danity Kanes of America (“It’s like cocaine, only worse!”), and made my way to a crumbling hulk of a place called the Congress Theater for a performance by experimental Japanese noisesmiths the Boredoms. After two-plus decades of noise, dissonance, experimentation, and unclassifiable chaos, the group led by Yamataka Eye (aka Yamantaka Eye, Yamatsuka Eye, or just EYE) has confirmed its enormous talent and undeniable star power. And when the opening acts were through and the Boredoms took to the stage — a riser in the round and just off-center from the theater’s enormous dome, stacked with three drum kits, racks of keyboards and sound equipment, and a creation called the Sevena, a seven-necked electric guitar played with sticks — it was clear that Eye and his collaborators had come into their own. They displayed depth, range, quality, and energy, and created devotion and longevity.
Diddy would’ve been proud.
The Boredoms’ performance began with an extended rhythm explosion, the three drummers (including longtime Boredom Yoshimi P-We, the same Yoshimi the Flaming Lips wrote an album about) roiling their output together into a storm of percussion to rival the roar of the elevated train line outside the theater. Eye stood in the center of the maelstrom, his mismatched dreadlocks whipping the air as he conjured light and sound from two bizarre, handheld oscillating orbs he that he manipulated like torches from the future. He also screamed bloody murder. Periodically he’d make his way to the Sevena and attack it with mallets and sticks, playing its multiple necks at once like a percussion instrument and lending a repetitive sound figure to the lengthy piece. It was captivating, and watching the band in the round, driving their sound from chaos to precision in the blink of an eye (no pun intended), it was like seeing and hearing a group create the opposite of a cone of silence. It was the cone of loud.
I don’t expect America’s teenagers to love the Boredoms more than they love Danity Kane. Their artistry and devotion to experimentation is admirable, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Still, watching the show, I began to think: what if it was Yamataka Eye at the helm of MTV’s “Making the Band,” instead of Diddy? Eye’s music has always seemed outsized from our universe; imagine what he’d breed if given the platform of a reality television program and Diddy-like resources? I bet he could make the Sevena come to life like a gorgon. He wouldn’t cast five hopefuls who are all kind of attractive and who call all kind of sing and kind of dance; he’d conjure one five-headed terror that shared a single body. A bad girl sucka for love that ripped eyeballs from sockets and sold them at a premium to teenagers lined up at the merch table. “Welcome to the dollhouse!” Eye’s creation would intone. “Now I will eat you, and make you love my music from inside me!”
I might have been getting a little carried away. In our real world, Danity Kane will likely sell a few hundred thousand more copies of its sophomore album; I’ll receive another press release a few months from now proclaiming that its members have only grown more beautiful and talented, and that their plan to light the way for the Olympic torch on a trail of spilled champagne is well on its way to being enacted. But the Boredoms, meanwhile, thanks to a new contract with celebrated Chicago indie label Thrill Jockey, will be releasing new material domestically and touring their in the round performance through America, the Sevena and the three drummers and Yamataka Eye’s mysterious screaming hand-orbs methodically schooling everyone on what it means to be truly dedicated to depth, range, quality, and energy in music and expression. You don’t have to love it. But that it’s out there means Danity Kane won’t kill us all just yet.
You can learn more about the Boredoms at Thrill Jockey’s Web site. To learn more about Danity Kane, search your soul for its darkest corner.
[tags]Frontier Justice, Johnny Loftus, The Boredoms, Yamataka Eye, Danity Kane, Diddy[/tags]